The Lyric Theatre of Oklahoma: Of the People, by the People, and for the People

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A child and six adults in colorful clothing on stage.

The Lyric Theatre of Oklahoma's production of Roald Dahl's James and the Giant Peach. Photo by KO Rinearson, courtesy of Lyric Theatre

Lyric NEA OK Arts Council_May24.mp3

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The Lyric Theatre of Oklahoma in Oklahoma City regularly receives organizational support from the Oklahoma Arts Council, the state arts agency, which receives part of its funding from the National Endowment for the Arts. So, both state and federal money impacts the theater’s operational expenses and many of their productions, like a recent mounting of Roald Dahl’s James and the Giant Peach. For two special performances of this show, the Lyric also received an NEA grant—their 14th since 2001—to provide free and reduced tickets to area students and develop sensory-friendly performances for children with autism, Asperger’s, and other special needs. According to Producing Artistic Director Michael Baron, “In almost every case, it was the child’s first experience seeing live theater.”

To mount James and the Giant Peach, the Lyric Theatre partnered with Adventure Theatre, a veteran producer of theater designed for young audiences with a long history of producing sensory-friendly performances. [In fact, Adventure Theatre's Artistic Director, Michael Bobbitt, pioneered this kind of work]. 

I spoke with Michael Baron and Marty Scantlen, an Oklahoman mother of two autistic children, about the impact of accessible live theater—something that’s vital to a number of communities across the United States.